7 things you need to know be­fore start­ing your Christ­mas shop­ping

Costa Blanca News (South Edition) - - Feature -

Those fes­tive spe­cial of­fers might look tempt­ing, but a lit­tle bit of prepa­ra­tion now could help you avoid costly shop­ping re­grets.

It's that time of year again - when peo­ple pre­pare to roll up their sleeves and take part in shop­ping fren­zies such as Black Fri­day.

But be­fore you start shelling out, pause for a mo­ment and con­sider whether you could be a lit­tle more savvy with your cash. Are you really go­ing af­ter the best bar­gains? Will you re­gret splash­ing out too much come Jan­uary?

Here are 7 things you need to know be­fore start­ing your Christ­mas shop­ping... . Is it really a bar­gain? Just be­cause a shop is ad­ver­tis­ing 'mega dis­counts', is the item you're af­ter really cheaper than it would be at an­other time of year? Do some homework now, when you're less un­der pres­sure to have Christ­mas all wrapped up - and you'll have a bet­ter idea later on if you're really get­ting a great deal. . Can you take it back? Swot up on your con­sumer rights. While there are gen­eral rules, it's worth ask­ing stores about their in­di­vid­ual poli­cies when it comes to 'good­will' re­turns if you sim­ply change your mind. The Con­sumer Rights Act spells out con­sumers' rights to re­funds on faulty items and makes it eas­ier to chal­lenge hid­den fees and charges. any on­line re­tailer you haven't heard of should be on the black list, but take the time to do a lit­tle re­search and look for re­views.

Check­ing your emails care­fully is also cru­cial. Fraud­sters are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly so­phis­ti­cated at mim­ick­ing le­git­i­mate re­tail­ers. They know it's easy for you to get caught in the mo­ment when a great of­fer lands in your in­box. Take a few mo­ments to check the email ad­dress of the sender is le­git­i­mate and look closely at the des­ti­na­tion of a link, be­fore click­ing it. This helps avoid end­ing up on a spoofed web­site and mis­tak­enly pro­vid­ing your card de­tails and per­sonal in­for­ma­tion to fraud­sters. . Fac­tor in de­liv­ery charges Two-thirds (67%) of shop­pers say they would not be will­ing to buy on­line if the de­liv­ery costs are too high.

Some on­line stores of­fer free de­liv­ery for shop­pers who spend over a cer­tain amount when mak­ing a pur­chase. And while it may be con­sid­ered quite cheeky, a third of the shop­pers sur­veyed ad­mit­ted they will over­spend know­ing they will later send some items back - just to qual­ify for free de­liv­ery.

Pa­tience can help cut de­liv­ery costs. Half (50%) of those sur­veyed would be will­ing to wait an ex­tra two to three days in ex­change for free de­liv­ery - while more than a quar­ter (28%) would wait four to five days longer. . Will your shop­ping spree put you in debt? Make sure the thrill of a bar­gain doesn't lead to a debt hang­over. Set a bud­get, and if you're pay­ing by credit card, pay it off in full be­fore any charges ap­ply.

Keep track of your ac­count bal­ance - bust­ing an over­draft limit could also make a pur­chase very ex­pen­sive, once you fac­tor in those bank charges. . Cut the costs Voucher and cash­back web­sites can help trim back costs. And if you don't mind risk­ing some­one else snap­ping it up, try leav­ing your item in your on­line shop­ping bas­ket and see if the store tries to nudge you by email­ing a dis­count code. It does hap­pen!

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